Edmonton cardiac program reaches milestone

September 28, 2022

1,000 patients have benefitted from minimally invasive procedure

EDMONTON — A team of local cardiac experts is celebrating a milestone a dozen years in the making: 1,000 patients have undergone a leading-edge cardiac procedure known as TAVI here in the city.

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation, or TAVI, is used to treat patients with severe aortic stenosis, which blocks the aortic valve of the heart causing shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, and can be fatal if left untreated. Doctors insert a manufactured valve through a catheter inserted into a blood vessel and into the heart, replacing a patient’s failing aortic valve.

“This achievement is truly a tribute to the skill and dedication of the cardiac teams who have performed these procedures,” says Jason Copping, Minister of Health. “The government of Alberta joins in celebrating their work, which has made a difference to so many lives.”

In Edmonton, the TAVI procedure was first performed in 2010 by a team comprised of cardiac experts from Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute at the University of Alberta Hospital, and the CK Hui Heart Centre at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

TAVI is a treatment option for patients for whom traditional open-heart surgery is deemed too risky. The criteria have since expanded, giving more people an alternative to open heart surgery.

“The TAVI procedure doesn’t require a sternotomy, it doesn’t require an ICU stay or lengthy hospitalization, the risk of stroke is lower. Overall, it’s amazing technology,” says interventional cardiologist Dr. Benjamin Tyrrell. “TAVI patients can resume normal activities within days, with no need for rehabilitation therapy. It eliminates a huge strain on the patient and their families, and on the healthcare system.”

This past spring, Rick Kilbourn became the 1,000th patient to undergo the TAVI procedure in Edmonton. He had open heart surgery to replace a valve in 2004. When that valve started to fail, his doctor recommended a TAVI procedure. Kilbourn was released from the hospital the same day he had his TAVI procedure. He says his recovery has been significantly easier than recovering from open heart operation.

“It was unbelievable,” Kilbourn said. “I can’t believe what doctors can do these days. I can walk farther, I’m getting out of a chair and almost sprinting to where I have to go. I’m pretty excited about the results.”

Watch Rick’s TAVI story here.

The TAVI program is directed by Dr. Tyrrell with a team of specialists including interventional cardiology (Dr. Robert Welsh), structural heart (Dr. Anoop Mathew and Dr. Dylan Taylor), cardiac surgery (Dr. Jeevan Nagendran), medical imaging (Dr. Craig Butler and Dr. Sayra Khandekar), anesthesia, as well as a dedicated multidisciplinary team including, nursing, diagnostic imaging and administrative staff.

Patients across Alberta have benefited from TAVI. Since 2011, teams at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary have also performed the TAVI procedure.

For more info about TAVI, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca - Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI).

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.